Feeling like there are too few hours in the day? Too many distractions stopping you from meeting your goals? It’s time to better organize your day to make the most of the time you have.
Start the day right
If you’ve not gotten enough sleep, you’ve already sabotaged your chances of a productive day. Get between six and eight hours of sleep and try to wake up at the same time each day.
Avoid looking at your phone first thing in the morning. It’s a distraction factory. Instead, take some time to focus your mind, eat a healthy breakfast, and do some light exercise.
Planning your day in advance will help you to achieve more. This could be as simple as jotting down what you want to achieve by the end of the day or organizing each hour of the day to use your most productive time to its fullest. Some people like to do this planning the night before, others at the start of the workday.
Use your most productive hours
If you now work from home, you have even more flexibility in how you organize your day. When planning your day, start by considering what are your most productive hours.
Some people find they’re most alert and motivated at the beginning of the day, whereas others find they perform better after they’ve taken care of all the morning chores, had some exercise, and were really prepared for the day. You may even find you get the best work done at night when there are fewer distractions.
When you’ve got a big project deadline coming up, it’s tempting to budget a big block of time where you’ll “knuckle down” and complete the task. But the human brain is like a muscle in that it needs periodic rest to continue working at full capacity. Taking effective breaks during the day will improve your workflow and you’ll actually get more done.
If you often forget to take breaks, set them on your calendar and add reminder alerts. The Pomodoro technique suggests working hard for 25 minutes followed by a 5-minute break. Employee tracking software company’s research found that the top 10% of the most productive employees worked more to a schedule of 52 minutes of hard work followed by a 17-minute break.
Experiment with the break routine that best works for you. If possible, get a little exercise in during your break time, particularly if you’re stuck at your desk all day.
Kill the distractions
Since we’re partitioning our day into hard work and breaks, it’s important to ensure the hard work periods are free from distraction.
If possible, have a separate area that’s only used for work. When you’re in your workspace, you should be able to fully concentrate without distraction. Close all social media and distracting websites. Banish your phone to a drawer.
Even work-related distractions like emails and Slack notifications should be switched off when you’re in your work zone. Nothing is that urgent it can’t wait until you’ve finished this chunk of work, and when colleagues learn you’re not always instantly available to solve their issues, they’ll distract you less.